Judges, Book of - is so called because it contains the history of the deliverance and government of
Israel by the men who bore the title of the "judges." The book of Ruth originally formed part of this
book, but about A.D. 450 it was separated from it and placed in the Hebrew scriptures immediately
after the Song of Solomon.
The book contains, (1.) An introduction (1-3:6), connecting it with the previous narrative in Joshua,
as a "link in the chain of books." (2.) The history of the thirteen judges (3:7-16:31) in the following
| FIRST PERIOD (3:7-ch. 5) | Years | I. Servitude under Chushan-rishathaim of | Mesopotamia 8 |
1. OTHNIEL delivers Israel, rest 40 | II. Servitude under Eglon of Moab: | Ammon, Amalek 18 | 2.
EHUD'S deliverance, rest 80 | 3. SHAMGAR Unknown. | III. Servitude under Jabin of Hazor in |
Canaan 20 | 4. DEBORAH and, | 5. BARAK 40 | (206) | | SECOND PERIOD (6-10:5) | | IV.
Servitude under Midian, Amalek, and | children of the east 7 | 6. GIDEON 40 | ABIMELECH,
Gideon's son, reigns as | king over Israel 3 | 7. TOLA 23 | 8. JAIR 22 | (95) | | THIRD PERIOD
(10:6-ch. 12) | | V. Servitude under Ammonites with the | Philistines 18 | 9. JEPHTHAH 6 | 10.
IBZAN 7 | 11. ELON 10 | 12. ABDON 8 | (49) | | FOURTH PERIOD (13-16) | VI. Seritude
under Philistines 40 | 13. SAMSON 20 | (60) | In all 410
Samson's exploits probably synchronize with the period immediately preceding the national
repentance and reformation under Samuel (1 Sam. 7:2-6).
After Samson came Eli, who was both high priest and judge. He directed the civil and religious
affairs of the people for forty years, at the close of which the Philistines again invaded the land and
oppressed it for twenty years. Samuel was raised up to deliver the people from this oppression, and
he judged Israel for some twelve years, when the direction of affairs fell into the hands of Saul, who
was anointed king. If Eli and Samuel are @included, there were then fifteen judges. But the chronology
of this whole period is uncertain.
(3.) The historic section of the book is followed by an appendix (17-21), which has no formal
connection with that which goes before. It records (a) the conquest (17, 18) of Laish by a portion of
the tribe of Dan; and (b) the almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin by the other tribes, in
consequence of their assisting the men of Gibeah (19-21). This section properly belongs to the
period only a few years after the death of Joshua. It shows the religious and moral degeneracy of the
The author of this book was most probably Samuel. The internal evidence both of the first sixteen
chapters and of the appendix warrants this conclusion. It was probably composed during Saul's
reign, or at the very beginning of David's. The words in 18:30,31, imply that it was written after the taking of the ark by the Philistines, and after it was set up at Nob (1 Sam. 21). In David's reign the ark was at Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39)